Vehicle Fetishism – Within Contemporary Media

Evidence of Fetishism within Contemporary Media – Case Study: The Grand Tour 2016

Here is a selection of clips taken from the 2016 series of “The Grand Tour” upon viewing this, it stood out clearly to me, encapsulating what I regard as fetishism and objectification of vehicles within contemporary media.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_5J9JBx794&w=560&h=315]

This selection of scenes and shots depict the vehicles as objects of visual consumption, only small areas of the vehicle are visible; shot in close-up range creating connotations of intensity. The small areas that have been shot are very sharp and detailed. The selection of scenes and images utilise complementary visual aesthetics such as Bokeh and light flecks. Each scene employed techniques that fetishised the vehicle, shots were slow and lingering, trailing the vehicle’s body in a way that accentuates and celebrates the engineering and structure of the car. It is interesting to mention that in some scenes, vehicles were shrouded in mist or smoke, creating a mystical allure;  fully encapsulating the magical essence that surrounds commodity fetishism. A selection of scenes also focused on particular parts of the vehicle, such as the exhaust or spoilers. I wish to pay special attention to the way in which the exhausts were shot and presented, shots were slowed down allowing for immense detail. Some scenes depicted water spurting from the exhausts, this paired with the slow motion editing and camera quality allowed for immense details to be revealed such as minuscule water droplets escaping from the exhaust. I would argue that these scenes encapsulate fetishism completely, it could be assumed that the lingering slow motion shots of exhausts make direct reference to Freud’s study of fetishism and repression as the exhaust becomes emblematic of a phallic symbol. It is interesting to mention that some shots were presented as Black and White, I would argue that this creates connotations of authenticity, exposure, power and dominance.  Some of the shots included vibrant over saturated colours attract attention.

 Recreation: Fetishism and Juxtaposition

Exterior…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOQmizV9zdk&w=560&h=315]

Within this small video production, I aimed to replicate/mimic various scenes featured within ‘The Grand Tour’ almost exactly. The exhaust scene at (0.01) of my ‘Exterior’ clip was a close reproduction (although, without the Ultra HD video and Slow motion thick mist and spurting water droplets!) of the original shot. However, my shot illustrates the rust and corrosion that is associated with age and daily use that acts to fetishize the dirty and imperfect nature of domestic and personal vehicles. Slow focusing shots were featured throughout my clip, this acted to create tension and drama by initially concealing my subject; attaching mystical and powerful qualities whilst fetishizing its appearance. Shots focused sharply on both the vehicles structure and ergonomics whilst also revealing the dirt and damage present on the external surfaces. I decided (impulsively!) to shoot these clips during a sunny and cold afternoon, this allowed me to incorporate and achieve effects such as lens flare. This worked well, I would argue that from my research, lens flares and glossy imagery make a prevalent appearance within vehicle marketing and commodity fetishism by representing the image as magical, god-like, lustrous and stylish. I also decided to add an ambient soundtrack which built tension and created drama within my video. Editing these clips together was also crucial. I decided to include jumpy/glitchy editing in an attempt to convey speed, and cryptic overtones. I would argue that in places, this editing technique makes the vehicle appear to transform and shape shift thus accentuating the surrealist fetishism that is often incorporated within commercial advertising. Within some of these jump shots, I overlayed glitchy audio clips, also featuring stereotypical machine-like sound effects acted to convey mechanical discourses and ideologies thus emphasising the supreme engineering.

Unlike within typical car adverts, I decided to video the vehicle in its natural form whereby dirty, damage and ageing are obviously visible. However, due to lighting and camera angles, most scenes embody a delicate juxtaposition. Stylised reflections and glossy surfaces also act to reveal and accentuate the grimy dirt and tarnish that is visible on both paintwork and chrome surfaces. Finally, making subtle adjustments to video colour, contrast and levels whilst also applying a filter allowed my to manipulate my clips, making them appear vibrant, stylised and aesthetically pleasing in a way that both adopted and challenged conventions on contemporary commodity fetishism.

Interior…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RufmhIld_g&w=560&h=315]

Within this clip, I decided to open with various panning shots that acted to reveal the vehicles inside interior to contextualised the video and subject itself. Again, deciding to shoot in sunlight allowed me to fully recreate and incorporate lens flares. I would argue that this fetishises my subject my giving it magical and cryptic qualities whilst also connotating and enhancing the beauty of its appearance and engineering. Unlike in the ‘Exterior’ video, quick zooms featured within this clip acted to build tension and create drama whilst revealing the resulting damage sustained through human interaction and daily use. Intense focusing zooms that illustrated and trailed particular sections of the interior such as the gear stick, stereo and steering wheel objectified my subject by isolating specific areas for visual consumption. In this clip, I decided to shoot some scenes of the vehicle whilst it was in motion. Scenes such as a view from the exterior wing-mirror at (0.17) revealed the surrounding area which consequently perpetuated discourses that focused on the vehicle as a mode of transportation (accentuating magical powers and qualities). This also acted to illustrate and reinforce discourses that perpetuate the vehicle as a layer of protection and comfort from outside elements and inconveniences. Within both of my video productions, the glitchy and jumpy editing also acted to communicate and emphasise the damage and state of disrepair the vehicle exhibited.

Following this discovery, I decided to attempt to replicate the demonstration of vehicle fetishism within contemporary media. I attempted to shoot my scenes in a similar style and approach to that of ‘The Grand Tour’. However, instead of photographing the vehicle as shiny and new, but rather as grubby and neglected. Scenes include dirty and grungy alloy’s however,  my images utilise visually aesthetic components such as over-saturated colours, shallow depth of field and vast tonal contrasts.

Another Shoot:

A Relationship of Tension and Shared forces:

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References:

The Grand Tour (2016) [Online] Directed by Phil Churchward. UK: Amazon Prime. Available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Grand-Tour-Teaser-Trailer/dp/BO1J93ZNN2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482354112&sr=8-1&keywords=the+grand+tour/ [Accessed 27 November 2016]

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